We return today to our regularly scheduled post of "Learning the Ropes" from Mr. Brian Ching, C.S.C., who joins in the spirit of Catholic Schools Week. He shares about the spirit of Catholic Education at St. John Vianney.
Over the past week we have celebrated two major and important events here at St. John Vianney, the celebration of Catholic Schools Week and the feast of St. John Bosco (on January 31). These two events meld very well because the Salesian Sisters, co-founded by St. John Bosco, administer our parish school with a sister serving as the principal and a sister serving as the technology teacher.
Though our parish school is relatively small, serving grades pre-k through eight, and could do well with a few more resources, there is a tangible feeling of something special and exciting at our parish school. Much of this is due to the presence of our Salesian Sisters on campus. The sisters bring a great tradition of educating youth, especially at the elementary age, that they have inherited from St. John Bosco. As we celebrate Catholic Schools week, the way that our sisters envision their mission of education provides a great example of what it means to be educators in the faith. Both Blessed Basil Moreau and St. John Bosco fervently believed in the importance of children in the life of the Church and in the importance of educating not just their intellects but also fostering their growth and maturity in the faith – that it is equally important to have a faith-filled child as an intelligent child. It is one of the reasons why our respective Holy Cross and Salesian charisms have melded so well together here at St. John Vianney. The sisters bring to our school a joy and enthusiasm that simply cannot be captured by a pedagogy class or any amount of teacher training, and their zeal for ministry speaks volumes of the great mission of Catholic Education.
Don Bosco earnestly believed in what he referred to as "the Preventative System of Education." That education was ultimately a matter of the heart and not the mind, that the preference should not be to punish students after they have done wrong, but to let the students know that they are loved by God so that they won't do wrong. He focused on finding fun and holy ways for his orphans to channel their youthful energy in a positive manner. Both Blessed Moreau and Don Bosco fully understood the true meaning of educating and caring for our young ones. They both acknowledged that education is an absolute essential in our lives but that that education must be guided to its proper end, who is God. The visions of Don Bosco and Blessed Moreau are great models for us today not only in the way that they view how we educate our children, but also in how we view our own lives and our relationship with God.
All that we have – our gifts, our talents, our intellect – have been given to us by God, and through our baptism we commit to using these gifts in a way that will please God in return. We need to nurture and nourish those gifts not just so that we can make the best use of them for ourselves, but so that we can make the best use of them for God. Our celebration of Catholic Schools Week is truly a celebration of vocation: When we use our God given gifts in a way that pleases God, we cannot help but to the follow the path He is calling us to.